Free Press Journal

Amit Shah offers an olive branch

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Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has offered an olive branch to its warring partner in power, the Shiv Sena. Reliable reports appeared in sections of media quoting authentic sources to claim that Shah has requested top leaders of the Sena to be a part of the National Democratic Alliance, so that they can contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections jointly.

Even as unexpected and untimely hailstorms are beating parts of Maharashtra making life more miserable for poverty stuck farmers, the political world is also experiencing hurricanes that would perhaps bring the all set political order upside down. It is said, there is no permanent friend and there is no permanent foe in politics; what is permanent is only the self-interest. If that is true, there seems to be an invisible but sound logic in media reports that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has offered an olive branch to its warring partner in power, the Shiv Sena. Reliable reports appeared in sections of media quoting authentic sources to claim that Shah has requested top leaders of the Sena to be a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), so that they can contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections jointly. If Sena accepts the offer, Shah is ready to give 140 seats to the Sena in the Assembly elections scheduled for October 2019. If this becomes a reality, the BJP-Sena Alliance has the strength to sweep the elections.

The question is what are the reasons which made the BJP change its plan to be ‘cent per cent BJP’ in the state? Not far ago, did the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis went on record addressing the national media that his government was stable with or without the support of the Sena. His senior party and cabinet colleagues have also been threatening the Sena to dare taking on the BJP. They had a reason to taker that stance as after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, leaving the Sena in a lurch on the eve of the last day of filing the nominations. BJP received rich dividend and became the single largest party, falling short of 25 seats to grab clear majority. The Sena on the other hand was left with only 62 seats.


Sena joins Fadnavis government

However, later reconciliation prevailed and the Sena joined the Government. Fadnavis went on winning elections after elections since then. After bagging most of the Municipal bodies, the BJP won majority Zilla Parishads and also Municipal Corporations. This winning spree injected confidence in the party and its leaders. This affected Sena’s pride and prestige. As a result, Sena followers from rural and urban quarters started bringing in pressure to break the alliance. Perhaps to quell this dissidence, Sena Party chief Uddhav Thackeray announced the party’s stand to contest next elections on its own and without joining the BJP brigade.

During this period, the BJP started facing defeats in the rest of the country. It surely won the UP elections in a grand style last year but failed in Punjab and had almost lost in Gujarat. Now that 2019 Lok Sabha show is round the corner, the prospects for the BJP are not as bright as they seemed a year ago. This is because Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh do not show any upbeat signs for the BJP, while Karnataka is still a big question mark. Tamilnadu politics does not allow any outside party in its state. Odessa retains its loyalty to Navin Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee holds her Bengal fort tight. To worsen the situation for the BJP, the Andhra Pradesh strongman Chandrababu Naidu, though an ally of the BJP vehemently put his foot down to demand extra financial assistance to his state else he would quit the Front, he threatened.

Efforts to retain power

In this given situation, if the BJP wanted to retain the power in Delhi and ensure Modi’s continuation in power, Shah was compelled to reach out party’s trusted colleagues in states with an appeal to remain united for 2019. In return, Shah reportedly promised Sena to give away as many as 140 seats to the latter. It may be recalled that it was the tussle of number of seats that saw the quarter century long alliance break on the eve of the 2014 Assembly elections. If the Sena gets its share of 140 seats that is close to half the total strength of 288 seats in the Assembly, its leadership would be contented and happy.

However, would this gesture of giving away as many as 40 odd seats go well with the rank and files of the party? The answer to this question would decide the future course of the two parties coming closer and in turn the course of Maharashtra politics. Second and third rank leaders of the Sena who come from district and Taluka levels, have been working hard for the last three years to grab party ticket to contest the 2019 Assembly elections. They have already done a lot of leg-work and have spent huge funds to ‘build’ the constituencies. If the two parties share seats, many of these aspirants would miss their opportunity. Will they allow such an eventuality? That is the million dollar question.

In any case, the Shah offer to the Sena has created a flutter in the political corridors for now. Let’s see what future holds in its store?

The author is a political analyst and former Member of Parliament (RS).